There are men and women in Wichita, Kansas who have endured and fought against decades of intolerance, picketing, violence and unceasing political strife driven by the anti-choice movement. This movement is intent upon demonizing and demeaning the personal morality of those that oppose them. This movement, driven by Operation Rescue and its other spin-off groups have attacked the personal belief systems of those that support free will and the right of women to seek, obtain and support legal health care within this community. I sit in full recognition and respect for those that have fought this fight far longer than I.
It’s hard to believe that this town was once home to five abortion clinics, while now there are none. s. It’s hard to believe that pro-choice Wichita has been fighting to protect this most vital of women’s rights since 1991. The original Summer of Mercy has left a permanent imprint on this community. It gave birth to a new breed of abortion obsessed politicians and terrorists. It was the moment that abortion moved from beyond being accepted as necessary health care and to being the preferred avenue for certain religious and political segments of our community to demonize, despise, and control the women that live here. Their Summer of No Mercy took away our choices and our doctors. It effectually high-jacked our legislative process and our individual respect.
It gave birth to a political movement that elevated into state office the likes of extremists of such notoriety as Kansas Attorney General Phil Kline. Despite the nightmare of consequences that came with his election and the assassination of Dr. George Tiller, this brand of politician is still thriving here today. Governor Sam Brownback is the epitome of extremism. He has promised to promote a “culture of life”. He is the rubber stamp of the righteous right wing in Kansas.
Operation Rescue now has its sights set on Germantown, Maryland. The extremist organization has made friends with some respectable and influential members of the community. The Archdiocese of Washington and Baltimore are official event sponsors for Summer of Mercy 2.0. Operation Rescue is still part of the ongoing US Justice Department investigation into a possible conspiracy surrounding the assassination of Dr. George Tiller. They still have a convicted terrorist in a senior position within the organization (Cheryl Sullenger), whose number was found in the assassin Scott Roeder’s car the day of his arrest.
Germantown….say hi to your new neighbors. Speaking from experience I can say that ignoring them is not an effective strategy. The longer they can go about their work uninhibited the more successful they will become. That approach was tried here for decades, it was even promoted from within our own movement. Dr. Tiller often asked pro-choice counter protesters to stay away. He was afraid that it would encourage the other side. What was learned is that they need no encouragement. They feed off of hatred and media attention. If they are allowed to dominate your airwaves and your streets, they will win.
Dr. Carhart recognizes that Germantown and the pro-choice community at large must stand up to these bullies. That is why he asked Nebraska NOW and Kansas NOW to mobilize an effort against Operation Rescue in Nebraska in September of 2009. Their effort fizzled and the the pro-choice movement amassed hundreds to stand in defense of Dr. Carhart’s clinic. That is why Dr. Carhart is a proud supporter of the Summer of Choice. The Summer of Choice is a chance for supporters of choice to stand united in their opposition to terrorism and harassment of abortion providers. It is a chance to pledge solidarity and find comfort in the sisterhood of reproductive she-ros from across the country.
Will you join us? Will you stand united for freedom and reproductive justice? This Wichitan will be travelling to Germantown to stand with Dr. Carhart. I will stand in memory of our fallen Doctor Tiller and for those doctors brave enough to continue providing this essential health care in spite of unspeakable threats and legal actions. I will stand for Dr. Mila Means, who continues to face down the bullies in Wichita in spite of danger and harassment. These thugs cannot be ignored. They will not be denied. They can only be met head on with all of the pro-choice might that we can muster.